domingo, 16 de junio de 2013

Marketing claims of universal expertise by freelance translators and “We Do Everything” agencies damage industry credibility


Agency Offenders

Many translation agencies are even more guilty of these kinds of overreaching, handyman-class absurdities because they not only claim expertise in all subjects but also in “all languages,” a combination that is mathematically impossible. Expansive claims of language expertise on their websites list non-existent languages in text overrun with blatant grammatical errors and obvious misspellings as well as bizarre contradictions (“We are experts in transesophageal echocardiography….and we also do all subjects and languages!”)

 Expertise in the Translation Industry

What first jumps out at language professionals from this research – aside from the refreshing scientific explanation of the universal absence of “young adult experts” anywhere in the language industry – is how convincingly it simultaneously dismantles the plague of claims of expertise based on “a natural talent for languages” or “long residence in foreign countries” or a “passion for things foreign” or “training in the most sophisticated Spanish in Latin America” (seriously?) and other specious silliness that pops up all over translators’ resumes. The point it drives home is this – there are no short-cuts, least of all those that are accidents of birth or circumstance or personal imagination.

An inevitable consequence of “We Do Everything” marketing so prevalent in the commodity sector of the translation industry is that it leads customers to the conclusion that “doing everything” is easy. It requires no special expertise because no special expertise is claimed by the providers. So translators and agencies in this sector are left to fight over market share for what they themselves portray as an indistinguishable product, which by definition makes it a commodity.

And the race to the bottom on price is underway.